Traffic Officer confiscates my cell phone: What you should know

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A4_bSince 2011 the City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law, 2011 has made it possible for an authorised officer to confiscate your cellular device if you are caught using it in your car while driving. If you end up getting caught red-handed, these are a few things you should know to make sure that all the correct procedures are followed when your cellular device gets confiscated.

The City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law, 2011 (hereinafter “the By-Law”) prohibits driving a motor vehicle on a public road, firstly, while holding a cellular or mobile telephone or any communications device with any part of the body and, secondly, while using or operating a cellular or mobile telephone or other communication device unless it is affixed to the vehicle (like a handsfree kit).[1]

According to the By-Law an authorised officer may, in the interest of public safety, confiscate a handheld communication device if he informs the owner of such device of the reasons for doing so. He must issue a receipt to the owner, stating the place at which such device may be claimed, and he must follow all procedures contained in any policy of the city dealing with the confiscation and impoundment of property.[2] The policy applicable in the City of Cape Town is called the Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals, 2012.

An authorised official exercising authority in terms of any By-Law of the City to impound goods, shall issue to the offending party a receipt for any property removed and impounded. This receipt must indicate:

  1. A list of the property to be removed and impounded;
  2. the physical condition of the goods (to ensure that they are returned in the same physical condition that they were in when impounded);
  3. the address where the impounded goods will be kept;
  4. the hours during which the goods may be collected;
  5. the maximum period for storage of goods before they are disposed of;
  6. the conditions for the release of the impounded goods;
  7. the name and office number of a council official to whom any representation regarding the impoundment may be made;
  8. the date and time by when representation must be made;
  9. the terms and conditions relating to the sale of unclaimed goods, by public auction, where no claim (and/or representation) is received.[3]

The City may sell any cellular device that hasn’t been claimed within ninety days after the date of impoundment through public auction which shall be advertised in local newspapers. Municipal officials and councillors, their spouses, relatives and acquaintances are prohibited from purchasing any of these impounded goods. Fees may be levied for the storage of the cellular device and any other expense incurred by the Council during impoundment. Said fees shall be determined by Council and may be adjusted from time to time. Fees and fines shall be paid at the Council cash office between the hours of 08:00 and 16:00 on Mondays to Fridays.[4]

Goods may be returned to the owner, or his or her representative, upon presentation of proof of payment of all fees related to the impounding and storage of the goods and any fines imposed prior to and/or during impoundment. Owners or their representatives can collect their goods during the hours and at the venue indicated in the impoundment notice served on the offender.[5]

Officials of the City must take reasonable steps to prevent any damage to impounded goods; however, it will not be responsible for any damage caused to goods where a reasonable duty of care was exercised. Digital photographs shall be taken of all impounded goods.[6]

A person who contravenes a provision of this By-Law commits an offence and a person who commits such an offence is, on conviction, liable for a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both.[7]

Reference List

  • The Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals, 2012
  • The City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law, 2011

[1] S 38(1) of the City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law.

[2] S 38(4) of the City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law.

[3] S 8, S 9 of the Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals, 2012.

[4] S 10, S 11 of the Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals.

[5] S 12 of the Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals.

[6] S 16 of the Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals.

[7] S 39 of the City of Cape Town: Traffic By-Law.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omission excepted. (E&OE)

Why is the transfer of my property taking so long?

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NovB03_newAfter signing a deed of sale, the purchasers often want to move into the property with great excitement and as soon as possible. When they are informed of the process involved prior to the property being transferred this may place a damper on their excitement. Coupled with this there may even be delays in the transaction.

In order to avoid unnecessary frustration it is vital that parties to the transaction understand the processes involved and that delays are sometimes inevitable. Besides possible delays there are a number of processes that need to be followed before a house can be registered in a purchaser’s name.

At the outset, it must be determined if the deed of sale is valid and binding between the parties. If not, a valid and binding contract will first have to be concluded between the parties.

The deed of sale will normally be the starting point in a transaction for a conveyancer who has been instructed to attend to the transfer. This conveyancer is also known as the transferring attorney and is normally the main link between the other attorneys involved the transfer transaction. Other attorneys involved are normally a bond attorney and/or bond cancellation attorney.

A major role of the transferring attorney is informing any mortgagees, for example banks, about the transfer so that any notice periods for the cancellation of bonds can start running. The notice period is normally up to 90 days. If the bond is cancelled before then, there could be penalties payable. The transfer may therefore be delayed as a result of the notice period.

If the purchaser will be registering a new mortgage bond to finance the transaction, a bond attorney will be appointed. Since the transferring attorney will not normally be aware of whom the instructed bond attorney is, the bank will usually inform the bond attorney of who is attending to the transfer. The bond attorney will then first make contact with the transferring attorney.

Obtaining the various certificates, receipts and consents applicable to the transaction in question also takes time. Examples of these are rates clearance certificate, transfer duty receipt, homeowners association’s consent to the transfer, levy clearance certificate, electrical compliance certificate and plumbing certificate.

The transfer duty receipt is obtained from the Receiver of Revenue and should be lodged with all property transactions, even if no transfer duty is payable to the Receiver of Revenue. During 2013 it took approximately seven working days from the submission of the request, until the transfer duty receipt was issued.

The rates clearance certificate is obtained from the local municipality in the area where the property in question is located. The transferring attorney will first request the municipality to inform him of the amount they require in order to issue the certificate. After receipt thereof the amount can be paid and the transferring attorney will then await the issued certificate. The time this takes differs from municipality to municipality. In the City of Cape Town, during 2013, figures were mostly issued on the same day they were requested and the receipt was issued within approximately five working days after payment. This time frame is largely affected by whether or not the municipality works on an electronic system.

If the property is located in an area where a homeowners’ association is established, there will normally be a title deed condition in terms of which the consent of the homeowners’ association must be obtained prior to the transfer. The time it takes for obtaining this certificate differs from one homeowners’ association to the other.

After an inspection by a plumber or electrician it may be found that certain work needs to be carried out before the certificates will be issued. If the work that must be carried out is extensive this can cause major delays with the transaction.

If the property is being sold by an executor of a deceased estate, the consent of the Master of the High Court must first be obtained before the property can be transferred. Major delays can be experienced if the Master of the High Court refuses to give such consent until certain requirements have been met.

Once the transferring attorney is satisfied that all relevant documents are in place he will arrange simultaneous lodgement at the Deeds Office by all attorneys involved in the transaction. It is therefore vital that the bond attorney has by this time obtained the required approval to lodge from the mortgagee and that the bond cancellation attorney has the required consents in place to cancel the existing bond/s on the property.

Once all the documents are lodged at the Deeds Office, an internal process is followed, which has different time frames in the various Deeds Offices. This time frame can also vary in a particular Deeds Office. It is best to enquire from your conveyancer what the Deeds Office time frame is at any given stage.

The list of possible delays in a transaction varies from one transaction to the other and the possibilities are endless. It is advisable to contact your conveyancer for an explanation should you feel that the process is taking too long.

References:
Aktebesorging, UNISA 2004, Department Private Law, Ramwell, Brink & West

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omission excepted. (E&OE)

Usufruct, usus and habitatio: What is the difference?

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A2_bUsufruct, usus and habitatio are personal servitudes. These servitudes are sometimes considered as an estate planning tool to reduce estate duty, but testators don’t always realise what this entails and the burden it could place on the heirs.

What is a personal servitude?
A personal servitude is always constituted in favour of a particular individual on whom it confers the right to use and enjoy another’s property. This servitude is enforceable against the owner of the property that is burdened with it but cannot be transferred by the personal servitude holder. It may be constituted for a fixed term or be granted until the occurrence of a future event or for the lifetime of the beneficiary, but not beyond his death.

How is a personal servitude constituted?
It is usually constituted by a last will, but can also be created by agreement.

USUFRUCT
A usufruct is a right that entitles a person to have the use and enjoyment of another’s property and to take its fruits without impairing the substance. For instance, the object of a usufruct over a farm will normally extend not only to all buildings but presumably also to livestock, farming equipment and the furniture in the homestead.

The general duties of the usufructuary
The usufructuary is only entitled to the use and enjoyment of the property; he does not acquire ownership of it. The usufructuary may not consume or destroy the property, but he is obliged to preserve its substance. The property must be used in the manner it was intended to be used. A new manner of exploitation is, however, permitted if it is considered to be the sensible thing to do under the circumstances.

Right to fruits
The usufructuary may take, consume or alienate the fruits, whether they are natural, industrial or civil. This means that the usufructuary is entitled to all the products of the land and all profits and revenues derived from the property. The young of animals as well as all products derived from the animals, including milk, wool or eggs become the property of the usufructuary. The usufructuary acquires the ownership of natural and industrial fruits by gathering it or by someone else gathering them in the name of the usufructuary. Growing crops are regarded not as fruits but as part of the soil and must be gathered and separated from the soil first. Fruits not gathered at the expiry of the usufruct do not pass to the successors of the usufructuary. Civil fruits (for example rental income or interest) become the property of the usufructuary when due. On the expiry of the usufruct civil fruits are divided between the now former usufructuary and the owner of the property in proportion to the time for which the usufruct existed.

Repairs and expenses
The usufructuary is bound to maintain the property and to defray the costs of all current repairs necessary to keep it in good order and condition, fair wear and tear excepted. He is also responsible for paying all rates and taxes. Payment of insurance premiums, costs of capital expenditure such as structural reinforcements necessary to prevent a building from falling into ruin and other similar costs, are excluded from his responsibilities.

Improvements
If the usufructuary makes improvements to the property he is not entitled to compensation, though the improvements made can be removed, provided the usufructuary makes good any damage that their removal may cause.

Alienation
A usufructuary may not alienate or encumber the property, but he may dispose of the right to the use and enjoyment of the property and its fruits whether by sale, lease or loan, provided that such arrangement does not exceed the period for which the usufruct has been granted.

Termination
A usufruct is usually created for the lifetime of the usufructuary, but sometimes for a fixed period, terminable on death.

Juristic acts by the owner
The owner may not do anything to prejudice the usufructuary’s rights. The owner may not prevent, hinder or diminish the right of use or enjoyment and may only burden the land held in usufruct with a predial servitude if the written consent of the usufructuary has been obtained. Any further actions by the owner regarding the property, for instance the sale of the property and the registration of a mortgage bond, require the consent of the usufructuary. The owner together with the usufructuary may mortgage the property, or the usufructuary can abandon his preference so that the mortgage is registered free from the usufruct. Most banks prefer the latter.

USUS
A servitude of use or usus resembles a usufruct but the holder’s rights are far more restricted. If the property is movable he may possess and use the property and if the property is immovable he and his family may occupy it. The holder may take the fruits for his and his family’s daily needs. The holder may not sell any fruit, nor may he grant a lease of the property. There are a few exceptions, for example should the house be too large for the holder’s use, he may let a portion of it. The holder’s use must, however, be without detriment to the substance of the property.

HABITATIO
The servitude of habitatio confers on its holder the right to dwell in the house of another, together with his family, without detriment to the substance of the property. The holder may grant a lease or sublease to others.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omission excepted. (E&OE)

Should I draft a Will?

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A1_bA mother who has always wanted her daughter to inherit her diamond engagement ring may never get her wish if she dies without leaving a valid written will. The mother’s estate would then be distributed in terms of the Intestate Succession Act No. 81 of 1987.

Taking the time to draft a will can leave you with the peace of mind that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes as far as possible. Your will should reflect exactly how you want your assets to be dealt with after your death and should not be contra bonos mores (against good morals). It should also not amount to “ruling from the grave”.

There are a number of legal requirements that have to be complied with for a will to be valid. If it does not comply with all of these requirements it could be found to be invalid. Your estate would then also be dealt with in terms of the Intestate Succession Act of 1987. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you obtain the assistance of someone with the necessary specialised skill and knowledge to assist you with the drafting of your will.

A will should also regularly be revised and updated to adapt to your changing circumstances, for example after getting married, and when there is a child on the way. Section 2B of the Wills Act No. 7 of 1953 (as amended by the Law of Succession Act No. 43 of 1992) deals specifically with a change in marital status by way of divorce, and reads as follows:

“If any person dies within three months after his marriage was dissolved by a divorce or annulment by a competent court and that person executed a will before the date of such dissolution, that will shall be implemented in the same manner as it would have been implemented if his previous spouse had died before the date of the dissolution concerned, unless it appears from the will that the testator intended to benefit his previous spouse notwithstanding the dissolution of his marriage.”

This can be explained by way of the following example: A and B get divorced and B dies within three months of the date of the divorce. B’s will was executed before they got divorced. Unless B’s will specifically indicated that A must benefit from B’s estate despite the divorce, B’s estate will then be distributed as if A died before they got divorced. A will therefore not inherit from B’s estate in this scenario. However, should B die more than 3 months after the divorce and B’s will, which benefits A, was not changed, then it will be seen as if B intended A to inherit, despite the divorce.

A person who was previously married and who remarries, should ensure that the necessary changes are made to his/her will. If not, this could have profound consequences for the “new” spouse, especially if the will still benefits the spouse from the previous marriage.

When there are minor children in the picture, it is advisable to make adequate provision for their living costs and education in your will. This can be done by creating a testamentary trust of which the minor children can be beneficiaries.

Thinking and talking about one’s passing is not a pleasant subject. Having a valid, clear and unambiguous will can prevent unpleasant family feuds caused by them having to make decisions about the distribution of your estate. It is certainly worth the time and effort to have a valid written will in place.

References:
Drafting of Wills 2013 – LEAD
Intestate Succession Act 81/1987
Wills Act 7/1953

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omission excepted. (E&OE)